This blog post will discuss weight and body image. It has zero intention of triggering, but may not be suitable for all readers. If you are highly sensitive to triggers around this topic, please skip this post.
Over the past several years, this question has been one that has been tough for me to honestly answer.
You see, from the ages of about 11-15, I was overweight. Like most girls that age, I cared about getting attention from boys. I cared about the way I looked.
And what I saw was the skinny girls getting that attention (a certain kind of “skinny” – the “right, proportionate” kind), and I didn’t get any at all.
So, by the age of 15, I had most certainly cultivated the belief that smaller equaled better, worthier, prettier, more beautiful, more popular, more lovable.
At the age of 15, I developed anorexia that caused me to lose 80 pounds in the span of three months. With it came numerous physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual complications.
But I was thin.
I’d lost the weight throughout the summer between Grade 10 and Grade 11. Toward the end of August was when I started at an outpatient treatment program, beginning the long road to recovery.
But my first day back to school, in Grade 11, was one I will never forget.
So many looks. So many compliments. From my classmates, teachers – particularly my gym teacher – and my long-time crush.
Now, I don’t fault these people for complimenting me at all. It’s pretty well ingrained in our society that when someone loses weight, you compliment them. No one could have known that I’d been fainting all summer, hadn’t seen any friends, spent all my time either asleep or working out in secret, was eating less than 300 calories each day, had never had so many fights with my parents or seen them or my sisters cry so much or been to the doctor so many days in a row, had never been so unfocused or weak or had less brain power, had never been so dispassionate or unmotivated or unloving, had never been so numb.
But that had been my life. And for what?
To be smaller? To be in control? To be approved of? To feel beautiful? To get attention?
I’m still trying to figure that out with the Lord, but I think it’s a combination of all of the above. Of course, there are roots in my own life that contributed to this happening.
And now, I’m truly physically recovered, and somewhere around 50-60 pounds heavier than I was at my lowest weight.
I thought I was mentally recovered when I was still underweight… but gaining weight has revealed the simple fact that I am not. I’m going to be really honest. I have been struggling of late.
Being back in a bigger body has brought up a loooot of memories of what it felt like to be in a bigger body when I was younger. To feel like “the overweight girl – the girl every guy rules out.” At least, that’s what I believed.
Today, I have an amazing, godly, funny, wonderful, handsome, sweet, smart, endearing husband who loves me so dearly and so well, regardless of my size, and who actually has made it clear that he thinks I’m more beautiful and healthy with more meat on my bones. I know that this is true, but sometimes it’s so hard to believe it. I feel the extra fat, extra layers around my hips and remember when there was only skin there covering a pointy bone.
Why do I think bones are better?! My husband doesn’t.
Well, we’re kind of taught that way. At least, we’re taught that girls should be petite and dainty and small.
Now, there’s another “ideal female body type” perpetuated in media, which involves a “thicker” lower half and a tiny upper half.
But my genes don’t do that. I tend to carry weight in my stomach and my arms.
Why does this feel like the end of the world?
A woman knows, down in her soul, that
she longs to bring beauty to the world. She
might be mistaken on how (something every
woman struggles with), but she longs for a
beauty to unveil. This is not just culture, or
the need to “get a man.” This is in her heart,
part of her design.
One of the deepest ways a woman bears the
image of God is in her mystery. By “mystery”
we don’t mean “forever beyond your knowing,”
but “something to be explored.” “It is the
glory of God to conceal a matter,” says the
book of Proverbs, “to search out a matter
is the glory of kings” (25:2). God yearns to be
known. But he wants to be sought after by
those who would know him. He says, “You
will seek me and find me when you seek me
with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
There is dignity here; God does not throw himself
at any passerby. He is no harlot. If you would know
him you must love him; you must seek him
with your whole heart. This is crucial to any
woman’s soul, not to mention her sexuality.
“You cannot simply have me. You must seek
me, pursue me. I won’t let you in unless I
know you love me.”
Stasi Eldredge, Captivating
I think this is just it. I’ve manifested the way God created me to bring beauty into the world in such a superficial way, because I thought that was the way for me to be received, liked, and wanted. When, in reality, the right man would truly pursue everything about me–like Jesus does, and like He calls us to pursue Him.
My worth does NOT come from my size, nor does my husband’s love for me, nor does Jesus’ love for me. My worth comes from Christ and Christ alone.
I’ve also truly begun to learn that “smaller is better” is TRULY a lie. Many, many men prefer curves and and “bigger bodies,” just as many prefer smaller bodies. Ultimately, Johnny reminds me that he will love my body forever and always because he loves me. I have a hard time believing this… until I think about how deeply and truly I love him, and not at all for his body (which is simply a bonus).
I’ll leave you today, Friends, with a verse from Colossians that has never failed to comfort, convict, challenge, and change me:
“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Oh Lord, I pray that you would work in the hearts of those who have hardened themselves to You and Your Truth. I pray that you would reveal Yourself to them afresh today. Jesus, help us to remember and live like our bodies, food, clothes, and our appearance are temporary and fleeting and destined to perish, because they are. Help us to live entirely, solely, and wholly for and unto and through You. Amen.